September 06, 2012
After months of debate, delays and controversy, the Greensboro
City Council voted unanimously to reject the low bid in the Solid Waste Management Services Request for Proposal (RFP) process in favor of the city's current contractors: Hilco Transport for transportation of trash and Republic Services for disposal.
The decision came Tuesday, Sept. 4 at the Greensboro
City Council meeting in the council chambers at city hall.
The decision to go with Hilco and Republic followed the recommendation of consulting firm Gershman Brickner & Bratton (GBB).
The firm disqualified the low bidder, Waste Connections Inc., over concerns that the company's Anson County landfill did not have the necessary operating permits to handle Greensboro
's waste and that their proposed subcontractor for transport, A-1 Sandrock, was not prepared for the scope of work.
The analysis noted that the route and times proposed by A-1 Sandrock from the city's transfer station to the landfill would have trucks making three round trips a day, averaging a speed of over 67 mph through areas with posted speed limits as low as 35 mph.
The initial analysis of the respondents by Joe Readling of HDR Engineering, the city's go-to consultant on trash, also disqualified Waste Connections and A-1 Sandrock over the ability of A-1 Sandrock to do the job due to a relatively small fleet size and lack of experience.
City Manager Denise Turner Roth recommended seeking the analysis of GBB in order to eliminate any appearances of impropriety after it came to light that HDR Engineering had contracted with Republic but done no work with Waste Connections.
Waste Connections Vice President Tim Fadul was the only speaker on the item to address the council before the vote at Tuesday's meeting. He said that GBB's statements about permits, which alleged that Waste Connections was unable to operate on Saturdays, were "wholly incorrect." Fadul said that Waste Connections was in the process of seeking a permit modification, but said it was completely unrelated to their ability to accept Greensboro
He also stated that since A-1 Sandrock had been thrown out, Waste Connections could step in and handle transport, which he said would still save Greensboro
about $950,000 a year over Republic and Hilco. He requested that the decision to select a vendor be deferred to Sept. 10 to allow further consideration.
However, councilmembers seemed more interested in finally bringing the process to a close than in hearing more from Waste Connections.
Councilmember Trudy Wade, who had been a driving force behind seeking a second analysis after HDR threw out Waste Connections, said the council had become "mired up in subcontractors." She also said she wished Waste Connections had come forward offering to do the job without A-1 Sandrock earlier in the process.
Wade also questioned why the bid from Republic and Hilco was so much higher than that from Waste Connections, given that Republic was hauling a shorter distance to their landfill in Montgomery County.
"I'd like to ask, if there's a representative here from Republic, just for me, why you couldn't meet the price of $2 million a year?" Representatives were present in the audience from both Republic and Hilco, but remained silent.
Before the RFP process, Republic had attempted to get their contract renewed at a price about $1 million a year higher than the contracts approved by the council on Tuesday. The previous contracts with Republic and Hilco cost about $2 million a year more than the bid from Waste Connections.
Councilmember Zack Matheny commented that the $2 million dollar savings from Waste Connections was not a realistic number, citing the concerns of both HDR and GBB.
Matheny also said that the long, drawn out RFP process had been frustrating at times. "I lost my cool," he said.
At an earlier meeting Matheny had an outburst where he yelled at Fadul, accusing him of lying about Waste Connection's readiness to dispose of Greensboro
Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small said she wished they had trusted city staff and HDR and taken their recommendation to go ahead and contract Republic and Hilco earlier. Bellamy-Small made the motion to enter into three-year contracts with Republic and Hilco. When she had confusion over the wording of the motion, she told staff, "however you want me to word it, I'll word it that way. Let's get this over with."
The motion passed 9 to 0 with Mayor Robbie Perkins and Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Nancy Vaughan, Jim Kee, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Nancy Hoffmann, Wade, Matheny and Bellamy-Small voting in favor.
The council also considered a resolution approving a "pilot program" for food trucks downtown. The pilot program, which passed 7 to 2, with Wade and Matheny opposing, will allow food trucks to operate on a rotational basis at Commerce Place during lunch and dinner through the months of October and November of this year. There is currently an ordinance that prevents food trucks from operating downtown.
However, councilmembers were hesitant to just pursue a resolution allowing the food trucks permanently on private property. A motion by Wade to forgo the pilot program and allow food trucks downtown failed 7 to 2, with only Wade and Matheny voting in favor.
Vaughan said that it wasn't an "either or" issue. "I see them as parallel tracks," she said. She contended that data from the pilot program would help inform the process of crafting a long-term resolution, if it was shown that there was a demand for the trucks and they didn't hurt business for "brick and mortar" restaurants.
However, Wade said she doubted the pilot program would yield useful data about permanently allowing food trucks, since the rotational aspect of the program wouldn't necessarily yield information about repeat customers. "Scientifically, I can see some major flaws," she said.
Matheny also expressed concern about the program, saying he did not think it was the city's role to give public space to select businesses. Although he said that food trucks would be "enormously successful" downtown, he said that the city shouldn't be in the business of leasing the spaces for them.
Referring to leasing spaces for food trucks, Matheny said, "I think we should open that up, by fixing the ordinance and allowing anybody that has private property, in which they want to lease, to open it up to numerous opportunities for food trucks."
There were 10 speakers from the floor on the item, more than on any other item at the meeting. All of the speakers were in favor of the initiative and many said they wanted to see the food trucks eventually gain a more permanent stay. An interest in diversifying dining options and enlivening the downtown experience were frequently cited as reasons for supporting food trucks.
Vaughan also gained a small victory during Tuesday's meeting. After fired Greensboro
Police Capt. Charles Cherry made another explicit reference to oral sex during speakers from the floor, which Vaughan has complained about in the past, the council unanimously approved her motion to "bleep" the offending phrase from the rebroadcast of the meeting....continued on page 2